7-26-03 - 4th time in Iowa this year...it's just
Waters Fished: Waterloo, North Bear Creek
Fish Caught: 10/35
Outing Date: 7-26-03
Air Temp: got up to 92F
Water Temp: Waterloo 69F, North Bear about 65F
Water Level: Normal
Water Color: Clear
Fish Species: Brown Trout, Brook Trout, Rainbow Trout
Pattern Fished: MP's Tucker Nymph, Pink Squirrel
Pattern Color: Refer to the pattern
Fishing Quality: FIRST TRIPLE SLAM EVER = PHENOMENAL
So the morning started very early, with me arriving
to Dorchester after midnight due to getting lost twice in Madison,
hitting a raccoon, and then getting pulled over for a busted headlight!
Talk about a difficult journey. Frank Nardomarino (hereafter "Frank"
or "Nardo") had the extended weekend off, so he had landed
6 fish Friday afternoon in just 2 hours. Not a bad start!
Even though I had an exhausting drive and didn't
get to sleep until 3:00 am, I was up at 8:00 along with Frank and
we were ready to do some fishing. Weather forecasts were calling
for the possibility of thunderstorms on Saturday and only clouds
on Sunday; this caused me to flip-flop our game plan and make Saturday
our day on the Waterloo, keeping us close to our hotel should things
turn really ugly. We'd do the driving on Sunday.
Knowing it was early and we had plenty of time to fill our creels, I suggested that we start at the Artificials Only section of the Waterloo; I had only been there once before and made it less than half way through, so I was eager to do more scouting. Frank started at the head with the deep pool; I skipped the riffles and started at the point I had STOPPED on my trip before. This turned out to be a good move for me; within minutes I had my first hit, something really nice size...and it came off. I could still see the fish so I cast again to the same spot and scored a HEAVY HIT, this time the fish stayed on long enough for me to see he was a NICE BROOKIE!!!! First fish seen a brookie; this is going to be a GOOD TRIP. I actually came very close to landing him until he dove into the algae, tangled the line in it and managed to work free of the hook! I was devastated.
I spent much of the morning casting that same pool, landing two smaller browns by the time Nardo showed up. Frank helped me out with some loaned flies; at that point I wasn't sure if I had simply neglected to bring my box onto the river or if I had lost it! I had actually gone down to the next pool and seen a ton of large fish but hadn't had any luck, so I let Frank start there and I started scouting. Passed a long stretch and got to another large pool, again full of big fish. Hooked up with something early on and then nothing, so I kept moving.
I ended up going probably 1/2 to 2/3 of the way through the special regs section of the Waterloo...the lower stretches looked like nothing but flats...there were PLENTY of fish but they're more spooky when sitting in shallow water; usually a couple casts was all it took to get them running for cover. So I turned around and went back upstream to find Frank working one of the unproductive pools I had tried earlier...no luck for him either.
I made a deal with Frank; I was going to go back and try to catch that brookie; when he was done he should come back up and meet me and we'd go somewhere else. Frank ended up showing up at the pool probably only 5 minutes after I go there. He seemed ready to go, having gone 3/5 in total. I wasn't 100% ready yet; It was on my last borrowed fly on my second or third cast after Nardo's arrival that I again hooked up.
We weren't sure what I had at first until the fish broke the surface; it was the BROOKIE! There was NO WAY I was letting him get away TWICE. Frank totally came to my rescue as I had also neglected to bring my NET onto the water...after a long battle including a couple close calls we got the brookie onto shore!
Talk about a nice brookie; 12", big humped back..definitely a fish that had been in the Waterloo a while. We snapped a TON of pictures and then I set to task reviving...took a couple minutes but soon enough this brookie took off and settled into deeper water. I was on a total high; now that I had landed my first brookie in Iowa on the Waterloo the triple slam was a piece of cake! Already had 2 browns, 1 brookie, for a total of 3/11 in the fly only section. I let Frank toss the pool for a while...he lost one or two fish and then we packed it up for lunch around 12:00 pm.
Our mission after lunch was clear...I needed to catch ONE Rainbow Trout. After that my day could be done, everything else would be gravy. I had been working on the goal of a 30 fish day, but God himself must have been smiling on me having provided the rare Brookie late in the season to help me achieve the even more difficult goal of the Triple Slam!
Here was the downside; when pulling out of the fly-only section we ran into a couple anglers who were just getting ready to hop in. Turns out that a week before there had been an article on the Waterloo in one of the Cedar Rapids newspapers. There were supposedly numerous anglers upstream. Hmm...where to go? Well, basically we decided to just start heading upstream from the fly only section at 1:00 until we found a deserted spot.
20 minutes later, just shy of the Minnesota border, every single access spot I knew about had at least 1 car on it, if not two or three! Unbelievable! I had hoped to fish the entire river basically by working our upriver from access to access over the course of the day. This just wasn't going to happen, so we settled on the "secret spot" where I knew there were several good holes and only 2 cars...I those odds were better than at most other spots.
"Secret Spot" treated us fairly well...I asked
Frank if he minded me sitting on the first pod of rainbows we found
so I could pull my triple slam...Nardo was all too happy to oblige
me. I told him I'd meet up with him downstream after I got what
I needed...within 3 casts I hooked up with and landed my first rainbow
of the day! A few casts later, #2 came...a fiesty stocker that jumped
several times and even got on my drag; now that's a fight! I had
thought I might go downstream then, but Frank hadn't come up saying
"This Sucks" so I figured I'd just change "what I needed" from 1
rainbow to my limit! I honestly can't remember, but I think I picked
up my third rainbow at this time as well.
I didn't pull my limit here...after those rainbows the fish slowed down considerably. So rather than waste tons of time I went down to see what Frank was up to; he had at least 2 by this point. I thought maybe now would be a good time to go to another access point, but on our way back up one of the real productive spots was open so I insisted we fish it! Not a bad call considering Frank pulled out his third rainbow and I got another little brown! All told by 4:30 I had gone 4/9 at the "Secret Spot" and Frank went something insane like 3/20!
So after a little too much time spent there, I suggested we move upstream and hit my "Double Secret" spot...I call it "my" spot even though Rich found it 'cause I've taken the most fish out of it. It's one tiny hole that you don't even see, and within 30 minutes you've probably gotten all the bites to be had there. Well, I got the bites, Frank didn't, and by 5:15 we left at 0/3 and 0/0 respectively. The plan would be to simply continue upstream and check out all the access spots; if they were full we'd keep moving. If we hit Minnesota, we'd find another river.
Let me tell you...every spot had cars and people fishing so the "other river" fantasy quickly became reality as I decided to hit the North Bear. Both Frank and I needed 2 more rainbows for our limits and I figured what better place to get them than there?! We got there to find a bunch of folks camping, but thankfully none of them were fishing; we had the North Bear to ourselves on a Saturday evening; sweet!
I kinda played guide and set Frank up in "Bart's Spot" and told him how to get to my "So-Many-Stinging-Nettles-I-still-have-scars-from-Last-Time" spot. Turns out that my nettle's spot continues to be productive even though very challenging to cast. By the time Nardo came up I had taken my 2 rainbows for the limit; the second one flying out of nowhere and absolutely demolishing my fly on an upstream cast (I was fishing a sighted fish!). Frank took a little brown and had maybe lost a big one in the big pond...I honestly was a bit surprised 'cause every time Bart steps in there he pulls out several fish! Well, I directed Frank towards some good water upstream and told him I'd go check out the pond...come find me when you're done.
Nardo is gonna really hate me for what I'm about
to tell you ('cause I think I kept it from him); after seeing my
Brookie Frank really wanted one too (who could possibly disagree
with that desire!). I figured after seeing Bart hook up with several
in his spot, Frank probably would too. He didn't...but on one of
my first few casts I DID. The fly hit the water in just the right
place and called up another large brookie...my second of the day....after
a thrashing that seemed to last an eternity and probably really
only took 1.75 seconds...he was off! DARN! I was that close to another
brookie! I continued working the hole and managed a little brown
with nice color...man if I had just landed that brookie that would
have been triple slam #2 for the day!!!
Frank showed up just after 8:00 and we decided to head out...Nardo wasn't quite as impressed with the Bear due to it's smaller size; on that I totally agree. But, in just a couple hours I was 3/12 and he sat at 1/5...that's not too shabby compared to his regular waters (Black Earth Creek). At this point it was a tough call..where would we go to get Frank his limit?! The Waterloo of course!
So there we are driving totally insane to get back
on the river before all light is gone for the day! By the time we
arrived the rainbows had turned off..no hope of getting Nardo his
limit today, at least if we were only intending to bag stocker bows.
But hey, the browns should be coming on strong at 8:30 PM! And this
is where Frank's many many years of experience really came through;
he did it big time, just before 9:00 he pulled in a gorgeous 12"+
Wild Brown. 1/1 for Frank! Me? 0/0 :P But as always, it was totally
a fantastic day.